The neighbor's dog barks at 3 am

I have a hard time being out in public.  With the public.

The other day an old man yelled at me for not backing up when I had the right of way.  I cried for a half an hour after that.

Today a little girl pushed my son down at the park.  I probably won't go to that park again.

At the grocery store I was standing in front of the deli meat, trying to decide which roast beef to buy, when an old lady parked her cart and her body right in front of me, apparently oblivious to the fact that I was even there.  I didn't need that roast beef anyway.

I guess I have no back bone.  I have thin skin.  I'm yellow bellied.  And so on.

The neighbors have a chihuahua that they leave outside all night long.  The dog barks, incessantly.  As if sleep weren't already so hard for me, add this high pitched, pathetic yelp.  We sleep with a fan, but since it's been hot we also sleep with the window open.  That leaves a thin screen, about 4 feet, and a wooden fence between me and the ear piercing, "yap, yap, yap." 

Since I despise confrontation, I will not be knocking on the neighbor's door and asking if they could please let their dog in at night, or do something else about the barking.

I'm tired.



Right now I feel content.  It's not something I feel often, so I'm just going to enjoy. 


Gross Garden, Big Boy Bed, and Standing Unsupported

 I have a garden this year for the time ever.  It's been so much fun going out there and seeing the little tiny zucchini starter turn into a massive plant with leaves that take over in just a few short months.  It was so fun picking my first ripe tomato, and seeing little tiny green striped pumpkins get bigger every day.  It was so fun until today when I went out there and saw SLUGS.


Slugs to a garden equal death.  Slime every where.  Zucchinis that grew only a few inches long before being eaten but slugs.  Slugs ON the good zucchinis.  Slugs inside the zucchini flowers.  SLLLLUUUUUGGGGS. 

I'm learning as I go, since I've never done this before.  The tomatoes have gone from thriving, to almost dying, to being over watered and then under watered, and now FINALLY being in great condition.  I see new little green ones everyday, and get so excited to taste their sweetness.  When I first planted the lettuce, it wilted and I thought it had fried to death.  After a week of watering it well, it revived and then thrived, taking over the small bed I put it in.  We have since eaten 3 of the 4 lettuces I planted, and had to toss a bunch of it.  THERE WAS SO MUCH.  Now, I have one lettuce left.  I have lovingly named it our "lettuce tree."  It stands about 3 feet tall.  Someone told me, "eat it!" to which I replied, "we have been!  There's just so much!"  As long as it's living and still providing lettuce, I'm fine to let it grow as high as it will till it gets too heavy and falls over!  The pumpkins also started taking over the yard, with it's vines that twist along the ground as they grow (beautiful, I might add) and bright green, curly spindles that shoot off every few inches and attach themselves to the ground.  I finally had to trim it back so that there was room to walk around over there.  The pole beans, which started small, have now grown to the very top of the lattice I provided for them, and just today I saw some big, fat beans growing.  Delish!

Pretty Pumpkins

Our first ripe tomato

 But the slugs.  Oh the slugs.  And the dying zucchini.  I'm not really sure what to do about it.  I've gotten 4 squashes from the plant, and that's not enough to fulfill my expectations of the plant.  I've heard stories of the plant never dying, always producing 6 feet zucchinis, and being extremely hardy.  How can it be that I can kill the most zealous plant of them all?

After much research on the detestable, disgusting, death bringing slugs, I found that there are lots of home remedies to try to eradicate the vermin.  I'm going to try egg shells first, because they won't cost me anything.  Next, coffee grinds.  Then, sand.  We'll see how that goes.  I also discovered that I'm probably watering the plant too much.  It only needs a good soaking once or twice a week, and I've been watering it with the rest of them, every day.  I trimmed off all the dead leaves, removed all the rotting squashes, weeded, and sprinkled some egg shells all around.  I hope that will give it room for air to circulate, allow it to dry a bit better with more sunlight, and hopefully deter the wretched and vile slugs.  (although, while I was down close to the earth doing all that, I saw some other bugs that I wish didn't know existed, burrowing into a fairly large hole in the ground.  Gardening is really gross, why did I ever decide to do it????)  I'm off the store in a little bit to get some coffee grounds.  I read about a lady who put coffee and water into a watering can and used that to water her plants every day.  She claimed that it kept the slugs away and caused her plants to flourish.  We'll see.

Isaac's Big Kid Bed!

In other news, I scored a toddler bed on Craigslist for $25.  It is in near perfect condition, and fits Isaac's existing crib mattress.  He's been sleeping in it for a week now, and has done great!  The first few nights took a lot of talking to, lots of reassurance and praise, and there were a lot of midnight wake ups, but after those hiccups he's settled in nicely.  Paige is sleeping in his crib now, and got her very own fresh mattress ($35 from Ikea!)  The crib bumper is up in the attic and I didn't feel like getting it down, and I'm happy to say that we haven't needed it!  She's been able to sleep in the crib just fine, and I haven't walked in to find her legs/arms sticking out of the slats.  She's still waking up 1-2 times nightly, but that's a lot better than it used to be.

Paige pulling herself up to standing

 Paige has been pulling herself up on something and then standing unsupported for 20-30 seconds at a time.  It's fun to see, but also quite alarming.  She has a habit of just flinging herself backwards without any regard to what is behind her.  It's also a little sad to me, since God-willing she is my last baby, and it feels like she's not so much of a baby anymore.  Mostly though, it's exciting.


Freedom from Facebook

The relationship I have with social media is love/hate.  I have a lot of friends that I've made over the years, and they live in different parts of the country.  Some of them live in different parts of the world.  Social media helps me connect with them, see pictures from their travels, updates of their children, know how to pray for them, etc, etc...

...but the price of all that is just too great.  So many things suffer when I'm "plugged in" to social media.

What suffers?

My household.  When I allow myself to constantly look at social media, the laundry, dishes, floors, tubs, toilets, toys, food, anything under my roof gets neglected.  I spend so much time posting pictures and then checking back every 2 minutes to see who liked them or commented on them, or looking through hilarious pictures of cats sleeping in weird places, that the things that really need to get done don't.  Or they get done in a hurry and aren't done as well as I know they can be.  Before I know it, it has been a month since I mopped the kitchen floor, and there is a pile of clean laundry at the foot of my bed that I never put away (not to mention toys in disarray, sheets that haven't been changed, and dogs that haven't been walked.)

My already over active imagination and fears.  News stories about people being killed, bombings, tragedies, kidnappings.  It's enough to make me go insane.  There is a reason I don't watch the news.  I guess I'm too sensitive to that tragic reality.  There have been times when I've been completely fine until I see something horrible on social media, and then I'm a complete wreck all day.  Because, as you can imagine, you don't just see it once, you see it over and over and over again in your news feed.  More harm than good for me.

My real relationships.  There have been times when, instead of calling someone, I'll send them an email via social media.  Instead of going to see friends, or friends coming to see me, it's so much easier just to live in the falseness of social media.  You live 3 miles from my house, but instead of coming to see you and your beautiful children, I sat down for 37 minutes and looked at all the pictures of them.  I commented on them, I liked them!  Isn't that enough to satisfy the face time that our relationship so desperately needs?  No, it's not.  To put it bluntly, it's a lazy way to have a relationship.  To me, relationships grow and thrive on real-life interaction, voice inflection, touch, community....and although I think social media was designed to promote those things, instead I think it's encouraged lazy friendships.  Say what you want, but that's my opinion.  I'm just as guilty as the next person.  Meeting with someone takes time, sacrifice, energy.  I need to practice it more.  With social media at my finger tips, I don't have to.  NOT TO MENTION the time I'm commenting on photos, reading articles, crying over terrible news stories takes away from the time I have with my little children.  Their time as little tiny ones is so short, and goes by in the blink of an eye.  Why would I want to miss that because I just HAD to see those 52 pictures of "reasons why kids are cute"?  ANNNNND my relationship with GOD, which is the most important of all.  Since limiting my time on social media, I've actually gotten through many days on my Bible in One Year plan.  Before that, there were too many things to look at!

My health!  How many hours have I spent on my butt, scrolling through my news feed?  I need to get up and move!  Actually see the world with my own eyes, and not worrying about checking in every place I go.  Where's the mystery in that?  Sometimes I like to have something to talk about with my friends, instead of starting a story and them saying, "oh yeah, I saw that on Facebook!"

All in all, I'm not saying that Facebook is the devil for most people.  I think a lot of people benefit greatly from it.  But for me...well, it's just not for me.  And since deactivated my account I feel different.  I feel free.


Groceries on a Budget

Our family has been working to get out of debt for a few years now.  I'm happy to say that we've paid off many little debts, including one of the cars, and cut our overall debt in half!  That is a great feeling!  But we've still got a ways to go before we can truly say we are debt free.  Since I don't bring any money in, I've been doing what I can to cut costs at home.

A great way to save money is by eating at home instead of eating out.  In my monthly meal plan (a must!) I included eating out for dinner 3 times this month - and that's generous!  My goal is ONCE a month, but like most things, if I try to do it just once or cold turkey the first time, I'll probably fail.

This month I decided to try buying all of our groceries up front with a budget of $350 for the month. That doesn't include toiletries, dish soap, paper towels, toilet paper, or cat litter.  The $350 is only for food items.  I went shopping at Costco and WinCo, our 2 favorite places to go.  I spent $328 (this was the most I have ever spent on groceries, and it was a bit overwhelming and scary!)  I'm hoping that making one trip to the grocery store each month will cut down on impulse buying, and also save gas.  Some of the things I got are as follows:

2 bags frozen chicken
Block of cheese
Bag of avocados
Bag of sweet mandarines
Ritz Crackers
2 bags Organic Baby Carrots
Marinara sauce
Organic Ground Beef
Frozen Hamburger Patties
Parmesan Cheese (in green shakers)
Jasmine white Rice (yes, yes.  We eat WHITE rice.)

WinCo (just a few of the items, there really are too many to list)
Healthy Choice frozen lunches
Cans of soup
Baby Food
Sweet Corn
Pizza Sauce
Tortilla Chips
Rice a Roni
Lara Bars
2 Whole frozen Chickens (for crock pot cooking, so easy!)
Whole Milk yogurt

I actually did buy a small package of generic diapers, which was $5, so technically I only spent $323 on food items.  So, there's a glimpse into the foods I bought.  With them I'll prepare very simple meals, as I am not a chef by any meals.  We'll be eating things like meatloaf, spaghetti, chicken parm, tacos, enchiladas, chicken and rice, breakfast for dinner, chicken soup, BBQ, and the like.

The money that I have left over ($27) is for miscellaneous fruits/veggies that I'll need to buy weekly.  Isaac loves bananas and eats at least one a day, so that's something that I'll need to purchase regularly.  I have SO MUCH LETTUCE growing in my garden (another way to cut costs!), so that's not something I need to purchase (yay!).  I'm looking forward to my tomatoes, zucchinis, and pole beans being ripe, and not having to purchase those for awhile.  Other things we like to eat are strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bell peppers, cabbage, brocolli, and onion.  I'm very blessed to live in a place where there are countless "u-pick" fields of berries (waiting till things are in season is another way to cut costs!)  I think I'll take Isaac blueberry picking next week.  He calls them "blue babies."  There are also fruit/veggie stands along the side of the road, where I can get local produce at a decent price.  Again, blessed.

I'm looking forward to see how long all this food will last us.  Will we have enough main courses to make it to the end of the month?  Will we have tons left over?  Will we need to spend more than we thought on fruits/veggies/random things we forgot?  We've had a food budget for quite awhile, but we hardly ever stick to it.

A few other ways we save money:
  • Wash our own cars (have a bucket, soap, sponge, and hose?)
  • Make our own baked goods (flour, sugar, butter anyone?)
  • Buy in bulk (Costco)
  • Consolidate trips to Portland by doing multiple errands in one trip
  • Buy online (Amazon Prime = free shipping!  I know that it costs money up front, but it literally pays for itself in just a few purchases.  This is great for buying detergent, bday presents, books, even almond milk!  Just make sure to shop around and don't over pay.)
  • Swap things with friends!  (need some clothes for your kids, want to use a food processor but can't buy one right now, cloth diapers?  Ask your friends to borrow them instead of buying them.  This has saved me so many times!  I have great friends!)
  • Buy used items! (I can't tell you how many times I've gotten things that were never used or gently used for a fraction of the cost of buying it brand new!  Now, I'm not talking about underwear, but other clothing, books, air conditioners....)
  • Netflix! (I. Love. Netflix.  I use it everyday.  And now there are Disney movies streaming!  Yay!)
How do you stick to your budget?  
What do you do to save money?


Just as he is

Isaac has been eating some gluten.  Mostly because I've been lazy, and weak.  I give in.  Packaged things are so easy - and he eats them!  BUT, I also introduced it again on purpose...to see how it would go.

It has been a few weeks and things were going ok.  I lie to myself and say that gluten doesn't change him.  It doesn't change Isaac's behavior, sleeping, mood, asthma, anything.  He's fine, right?  My gut is telling me another story, "it's not good for him."

And since I'm mom, and with him 90% of my day, I am able to watch him, observe, investigate.  And this is what I've noticed:

gluten and sugar are not good for him.

There.  I said it.  Maybe because I said it to the 2 of you who faithfully read my blog, it'll be easier not to give it to him.  You'll be my accountability.

No, it'll be hard.  It's hard.  It's SO hard.  It's so hard that I've cried.  There are days when I don't want to get out of bed, because it's like pulling teeth to get my son to eat anything that's not pizza or chicken nuggets.  People tell me that kids are adaptable.  Those people haven't met Isaac.

I'm working on loving him just as he is.  He's sweet.  He's intelligent.  He's cute and hilarious.  But he's also very stubborn, impatient, emotional, and he is a truly picky eater.  I need to take the good with the bad, be a good example, and change MYSELF to be more compassionate, have more patience, put more work into it, and pray a lot more.  


In My Life

Some things seem impossible.  Like, "that could never happen to me." Or, "that would never work!"  I get my hopes up about things and then I catch myself, almost certain that getting my hopes up only means they will soon be dashed.

Shame on me!  Do I not serve a God who can make the impossible reality?  I'm so forgetful, like those Israelites I was just reading about it Leviticus.  They were there to see, with their own eyes, God's wonders in Egypt.  Then, after he set them free from slavery by incredible means, they saw his wonders and felt his provision for them in the desert.  They were hungry, so God made it RAIN BREAD from the sky.  They were sick of bread and wanted meat, so God gave them quail that was not only abundant, it was actually piled up many feet high all around them and extending out in all directions.  They were thirsty, so God gave them water from a rock.

And still.  They complained.  They doubted.  They down right disobeyed.

All the while I'm reading about them, shaking my head.  Scoffing.  Thinking, "they are so stupid!  Did they not just see the freaking RED SEA part and walk across to safety on dry land??!  Did they not watch the ground open up and swallow those men (and all of their family members) who disobeyed God?!  I would have listened!  I would have been in awe!  I would have NEVER done that!"
Val Kilmer is definitely my favorite Moses. (Prince of Egypt!)

Riiiiight.  As if I don't do that EVERY day!  I see God's hand in my life, his blessings, his miracles.  Sure, I'm not looking up at the sky to follow a pillar of fire in the direction I'm supposed to go, but God works in my life in ways that I am able to see, feel, and hold.  And when those miracles happen, those prayers are answered (even if differently than I prayed for!), when illness is healed, when bills are paid....I still disobey.  I forget.  I complain.  I don't read my Bible or pray.  I don't give thanks.  And I definitely don't do what I'm supposed to.

Reading about the Israelites sinning again and again, I found that Moses always begged God to forgive the people who sinned.  And God did.  Many times he didn't smite them, even though he wanted to.  (if you think that makes God mean, please read through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy to see how many time he actually spared them.)  Now, it's Jesus going to bat for me.  He paid the cost of my sin so that I would be forgiven for all these times I forget the amazing things God has done for me and turn away.

The next time I feel like something is impossible, I'll open up my Bible and read the story of Moses, and how God used him to deliver the Israelites from slavery.  


It smells in here! (if poo grosses you out, don't read!)

I've been trying to potty train Isaac.  Oh, excuse me.  We're not supposed to say "train."  It's potty "learning."  Ahem.

Sometimes reading books and websites for parenting advice can be wonderful.  There are lots of things I would never have thought of if I haven't read about them in a book.  But sometimes, I think I read too much.  Sometimes I just need to go with my instincts.  I read (hahaha, yes read) in a magazine that often times dads make better stay-at-homers, because they go with their guts, don't ask others for parenting advice, allow the kids to do riskier things than mom would, and have a lot more fun doing it all.  Maybe I could take a lesson from the dads of the world.

Isaac is having a tough time learning to be diaper free.  I wonder what I'm doing wrong.  I have this book that I got at a yard sale for 0.25 that is all about potty learning.  I read the first 30 pages or so, and then looked in the glossary for quick answers to the "problems" we're having.  Constipation.  Down right refusal to poo in the potty.

We've been at it for about 3 weeks now.  He does great when it comes to peeing in the potty.  Sometimes he'll even wake up from a nap with a completely dry diaper.  He's getting it.  But when it comes to poo....it's like he's afraid.  He's done it twice, but won't anymore.  He even held it for 4 days!  At that point he was constipated, it hurt, I had to use a suppository, he was traumatized....

....all things kind of negative around an area that already seems sensitive for him: pooing in the potty.  

I've looked at the potty learning book sitting on my kitchen counter 100 times.  I can't, however, bring myself to pick it up.  This feels different.  This feels like something I need to slow down, observe, and understand for myself.  I actually believe that the PhD who wrote the book knows what she's talking about, and maybe after I've tried a few things on my own I'll be able to go back to the book for tips, but this particular PhD doesn't know my particular child, who happens to be particularly picky, sensitive, and stubborn.  So, I think I'll do my own investigative parenting for now.

I think that I need to start over.  I think that he needs to wear diapers for a little while longer.  He needs to get back into the habit of regular pooing, and then we can start over.  Try and introduce it another way.  Because, at this point, even the promise of ice cream, fresh baked cookies, and a remote control car that is sitting on top of the refrigerator hasn't even persuaded him to go.


And Paige too!

Since most of my readers are my friends, it's probably known that not only do I have a little boy, I have a little girl, too.  Paige.  And when I say little, I don't mean just little in age.  They are both little in size.  Isaac has always been low on the growth charts, right now he's in the 2% category for his height and weight.  And although I've always adored my little petite girl, it seems that she's not just petite in my eyes, she's also petite when compared to the nation's little girls her age.  She's in the 1% for height and weight.

I don't worry about their size on a day to day basis.  I feed them CONSTANTLY.  Sometimes I feel like that's all I ever do.  I am a Mama bird, always planning their next meal.  Isaac is picky, as my faithful readers know, but what he does eat, he eats in decent amounts.  He can put down many slices of bacon in a single sitting.  And Paige, she's an extraordinary eater.  I've found that she's not super fond of avocados, and that's it.  Everything else I've given her, she's eaten.  Amazing!  I've felt so blessed to have a good eater.  Green beans, carrots, broccoli, artichokes, chili, corn, beans....she'll eat it all!  Only lately I've noticed that the mozarella cheese she once loved, she has been pushing away and pursing her lips at.  That should have been my first clue.  It is true (as was told to me by a doctor) that sometimes when a kid doesn't like something, it's because they're body doesn't like it, which I've recently discovered is probably the case for Paige and milk products.

I only start to worry about their weight when I take them to the doctor.  I started her on whole milk after I took her to the doctor for her 9 month well baby visit.  The nurse weighed her and then measured her height.  She looked puzzled, left the room for a minute, and then came back with "the board."  The board is used for a more accurate height measurement on little ones.  I laid Paige on the board, and the number was the same as when the nurse has measured her the usual way.  When the doctor came in he told me that he didn't believe the nurse at first, because Paige was measuring so small.

Small.  Here we go again. Isaac has been "small" his whole life.  I have been questioned thoroughly about what he eats, referred to a nutritionist, urged to try whole milk, whole yogurt, things slathered with butter and cream cheese and anything loaded with calories to try and get his weight up.  He has had blood drawn and allergy tests done.  Even now they look at his growth chart and then look at me, slightly sideways, with a furrowed brow.  Nothing like a visit to the doctor with my "small" children to make me feel like crap.

If the doctor followed me home and observed my day to day with my kids, he would see that I'm constantly in the kitchen making them food.  When we go to the park I make sure I pack enough food.  With Isaac, although he's 3 now, I sometimes still spoon feed him when he's too distracted to eat.  I beg, plead, play, try eating outside and inside, make games out of it....do whatever I can to get my kids to eat.  And so they do.

I feel guilty about nothing, essentially, when I hear that Paige is small and that I need to try to get her weight up. I feel guilty when they tell me she needs to come in for a weight check in 4 weeks.  I like my doctor, I do.  But is there another chart he can show me that measures how content, how cared for, how loved, how doted upon a child is?  Because when I look at the height and weight chart, I just feel guilty.  And I feel like a bad mom.  

But I know I'm not.  I'm trying my best.  Paige and Isaac eat LOTS of food.  They are just not as big as the rest of the kids in this country.  I wonder how they would measure up to kids in other countries?  And I just wish, for once, the doctor would tell me that because my kids are otherwise healthy - even with Isaac's asthma, at least it's under control now! - it's not such a big deal that they are "small."

So I gave Paige whole milk thinking that maybe it would help plump her up.  She's still breast feeding multiple times a day and once at night.  I gave her the whole milk for probably 3 days in a row.  She didn't drink much of it, as she's still just learning how to drink from a sippy cup, I'd say maybe 6 ounces total, over the course of 3 days.  During that time I noticed that she was constipated, and that her eyes were puffy.  I was stumped about the puffy eyes until I realized that the only thing I had changed was giving her milk.  I looked it up, and every article I found said that puffy eyes could be the sign of a milk sensitivity.  Sigh. I stopped the milk.

I'm not surprised, really.  Her dad is lactose and gluten intolerant.  Isaac, as you know, has lots of food issues, and I've been told before that gluten isn't the best thing for me.  There it is.  Another kid with a possible food sensitivity.  At least I found out early, and at least the reaction wasn't hideous.  That might explain why she's been refusing cheese.  Maybe she just knows, "it makes my tummy hurt!"


When Love is too Hard

"To love another person is to see the face of God."
- Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

The selfishness of this world, and of myself, astounds me. In the morning I wake up and think, "I don't want to do this. I'm so tired.  I don't feel well.  I didn't sleep much.  I, I, I..."  When I get in the car I hear the lyrics of a song, "got to be true to myself..." Then I see the disgusting news that a human monster is on trial for killing babies born alive in the most gruesome of ways, because millions of women get pregnant when they don't want to and selfishly decide they have the power to brutally end the life of another human being. Babies!  Did I really just read about that?  How is that legal, acceptable, mainstream in this world?  I digress...

Or how about that couple that is getting divorced because they "just don't love" each other anymore.  What kind of love is that?  A selfish kind.

Yesterday I realized that I love others selfishly.  Even my own husband and children.  Most of the time I'm living my days just waiting for nap time, when I won't have to deal with poop, picky eating, constantly repeated phrases and questions, and whining.  When I'm not living for nap time, I'm living for the evening or the weekend when my husband is home so I can have a break.  So I can sleep.  So I can watch that show I've been dying to watch. So I can exercise.  So I, I, I....

(I'm not saying there's anything wrong with breaks from children.  We all need them for sanity's sake.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with sleep.  We all need sleep so we can be healthy.  But what I am saying is that living for another time, a time when it gets to be all about me, is selfish.  That's the hard truth!)

I have been feeling particularly down lately, and I looked to God's Word for comfort.  The verse of the day on my YouVersion Bible Ap was Ephesians 5:1-2 : "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."

At first I just glanced at the verse.  But then I decided to read it again.  The words Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice resonated deep inside me.  He gave himself up.  He made himself an offering and a sacrifice.  If I am to be an imitator of God, which is what I ultimately strive for, then I have to love my children like He loves me.  Walking in love means giving myself up for my children, husband, family, and friends.  It means that I sacrifice what I want and what I think I need to make sure that they are taken care of first.

There are those out there who will disagree with me.  That's fine.  Your walk with God is your own.  But for me, one who is selfish to the core, the lesson that I had to learn is that even when love is hard, I have to do it.  Even when I feel like I have no strength, no energy, nothing left, I have to do it.  Even when it's not fuzzy, doesn't feel good, isn't popular, I have to do it.  Even when I feel like I'm alone in it, I have to do it.

I will have time to myself.  I will have time to connect with other adults.  I will have time to rest and rejuvinate.  But for now I have to get down on the floor and play puzzles for the 400th time, change soiled underwear from a failed potty training attempt, feed that restless baby more than once in the middle of the night, and still find the energy to hug, kiss, and rub Neosporin on wounded knees.

Today I asked God to teach me how to love His way.  Not the selfish way that I always have.  The sacrificial way.  I want to be like Him, because it's only when I'm like Him that being a mom is truly fulfilling.  Being like Him means loving till it hurtsAfter all, just look at what He did for us on the cross.


"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it.
The hard... is what makes it great."

-Jimmy Dugan, A League of Their Own




Easy Homemade Play Dough

Today I made play dough.  I can't believe I haven't before now.  It is so easy!

Easy Homemade Play Dough

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup salt (yes, CUP)
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
food coloring

In a 2 quart sauce pan, combine the flour, salt, and cream of tartar. Add the water and the vegetable oil, mix together.  Cook over low/medium heat - stir constantly.  The mix will start to get thicker.  Before it's too thick, add the food coloring. (if you wait too long the food coloring will be hard to mix.  Don't wait till it gets to thick.)  Keep stirring.  Once the mixture starts to gather around the spoon, it's done.  The whole process doesn't take more than 2-3 minutes.  Put it on some wax paper or a plate to cool.  Once it's cool, you can knead it for a little while to make sure all the lumps are out, and that it's smooth.

Fun times for everyone!

Gluten Free Hamburger Casserole

It doesn't sound that appetizing.  What can I call it to make it sound yummier?

It's not like hamburger helper.

Ground Beef Casserole?  Beef Potato Mish Mash?

Whatever you want to call it, it's good.  Darn good.  So good that there weren't any left overs.  We ate it all.  Isaac didn't like it, no surprise there.  But we adults liked it.  Loved it.  Devoured it. Did I mention it's good?

Gluten Free Hamburger Casserole

1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped (whichever you like best!  I used a yellow sweet onion.)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
3 large potatoes (peeled and sliced)
3 carrots (shredded.  you can peel if you want to, I don't.)
gluten free cream of mushroom soup substitute (I used this recipe, and it turned out dee-lish: http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/soup/creamy-soup/gluten-free-substitute-for-cream-soup-base.html  I left out the mushrooms because no one in my family, including me, likes them!  You could use a regular old can of cream of mushroom soup, but then it wouldn't be gluten free.)
parmesan cheese - as much or as little as you want!

Preheat oven to 350.  Brown ground beef w/ onions on stove.  Transfer the browned ground beef and onions into a casserole dish.  Layer potato slices on top of the ground beef.  Layer the shredded carrots on top of the potatoes.  Pour the gluten free cream of mushroom soup substitute on top of the carrots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover the casserole dish with the lid (or foil) and bake in the over for 40-50 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of the casserole (uncover first, haha) and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.  Let the casserole sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.  Warning: it will be piping hot!



Climb On a Back That's Strong

 "I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come?" -Psalm 121:1

The responsibility of being a mom is greater than I could have ever imagined.

I should have known, really, since I had a great mom myself.  I should have known, when laundry was always done, when food was always made, when barf was always cleaned up, when hair was always combed, when rides were always given, when songs were always sung....it was my mom.  All that stuff didn't just magically get done.  It was a super hero who slept in a room just down the hall from mine.  My mom.

The responsibility of being a mom is harder than I could have ever imagined.

It makes sense now, looking back.  My mom never ate a hot meal.  She never finished a movie.  She was always the last one to get a shower.  She was always the last one to go to bed at night, and the first one to get up in the morning.  She made sure my dad had breakfast and coffee, and a lunch packed.  And she worked full time outside the home, too.

The responsibility of being a mom is lonelier than I could have ever imagined.

When I was four, my family moved from California to Pennsylvania.  My mom had to say goodbye to all the friends she'd known, and raise 3 kids without the support of her own family.  Yes, she had my dad, but husbands aren't meant to fill certain needs, like the friendships of women.  I remember her crying once when she was listening to song about friends.  She missed her girlfriends terribly.  She was lonely. 

Today was rough.  Sundays often are.  The last day of the weekend.  The last day my husband is home with us.  The day before Monday, which is the first day that it's just me and the kids in this house.  Great, hard, lonely. 

 My husband asked me if I was ok and I told him, "I'm just weary."  And it's true.  My kids are wonderful, and I love my family.  But being a mom is work.  Anyone who thinks that moms who stay at home with their kids have it easy is sorely mistaken.  I've had a lot of jobs, more than I can even remember, but I've never had a job like this.  I've never had a job that doesn't come with mandatory lunch breaks, and two 15 minute breaks on top of that.  I've never had a job where my coworker's lives and well being depend on me.  I've never had a job where I'm on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  And did I mention that I don't get paid?

I won't compare myself to my mom.  I can't remember her ever complaining.  She had the biggest influence on my life and the person I am today.  When I think about that, my heart gets caught in my throat.  I am the biggest influence on my kids' lives and the people they will become.  That feels too heavy.  I feel crushed under that weight.  I'm absolutely inadequate and unable.

So I look up.  Where does my help come from?  If I was able to do this all on my own, I wouldn't need Him.  Jesus, the ultimate example of sacrifice, which is, after all, what it means to be a mom.  Sacrifice.  I think about Him.  His whole life was a sacrifice.  People followed him wherever he went.  He was exhausted.  "Feed us! Heal us! Pray for us!  Save us!  Die for us!"  The people never left Him alone.

If Jesus could sacrifice all He had for those He loved, even His life, and I have the same spirit in me that's in Him, then I can sacrifice my life for those that I love.  I can get out of bed and make sure that the kids have breakfast.  I can play games, sing, dance, read, hug, clean, cook, love till I feel like my bones are breaking from exhaustion.  

Being a mom is great, hard, and lonely, and trying to do it on my own strength is useless.  So I borrow the strength of Him whose shoulders are more than strong enough.


Hold your breath!

Yesterday Isaac's fever got up to 102.8.  His nose was stuffed and he was breathing through his mouth all day.  He was clingy, whiny, and miserable.  Last night when he went to sleep I caught myself holding my breath.  I was waiting for him to wake up wheezing.  I was envisioning late night emergency inhalers, and a possible visit to the emergency room.

Can you imagine my delight, joy, and gratitude when he was still sleeping at 7:30 this morning?  I didn't hear a peep out of him all night.  When he woke up he was warm to the touch, but the thermometer read 98.6.  

He slept through the night.

He didn't wake up barfing ropes of mucous.

He didn't wheeze.

I can't emphasize how truly extraordinary this is.  He had a "normal" sickness. 

A stuffy nose didn't lead to an asthma attack!  I will admit that I did a few precautionary puffs of his new (lower dose) emergency inhaler.  Normally, though, those precautionary puffs do little to nothing.  This time, 4 puffs from an inhaler seemed enough to keep his airway open and keep him breathing normally.  

Was it just the puffs though?   I think not!

Daily singulair helped, I know it.  But that's not all.

Weeks of keeping his body free of foods he is sensitive to...I'm sure that had something to do with it.  A LOT to do with it.

I'm surprised, astonished, overwhelmed with joy and gratitude.  As my best friend put it (without whose help I wouldn't have even known where to start this whole process), "I'd say you're onto something."

Thanks God.


Blog Header

Like my new blog header?  Make sure to check out my friend Brenden's page, he's a very talented graphic designer!

Good News. Bad News.

This past week has been difficult.  I have been sick with a cold/flu thing, and Paige has been fussy and warm, which makes me think she has it too.  She's also got red, sore gums.  Isaac, although seemingly well, has been very toddler-ish and not eating much because he's sick of all the same old foods. 

In the midst of a hard week, I got some good news.  Isaac went to the allergist for a follow up yesterday.  It had been 4 weeks since he has allergy testing, and 4 weeks since we started his food sensitivity diet.  He gained 1.5 pounds, and grew 1/4 inch!  In 4 weeks!  Hallelujah!

All those days/meals of struggle paid off!

Last night Isaac spent the night at Grandma's.  When I dropped him off he was in great spirits.  But the bad news is that Grandma called my husband at 5 am saying that Isaac had been up all night with a fever.  He came home early this morning, warm, disoriented, and cranky.  His breathing wasn't fast, but it was faster than normal.  I gave him 2 puffs of his emergency inhaler on top of his daily treatment.  He's been sleeping for almost 3 hours now, and I hope that when he wakes his breathing isn't any worse.  It's different when Isaac gets sick.  It's almost always an emergency.  I hope that with this new diet in place, his system will work better to fight off these bugs.  Maybe it will be a normal sickness, instead of an emergency.  I've been praying.

We are going to try to re-introduce corn this week, in the form of corn chips.  We will have Isaac eat a serving of corn chips for 3 days, and watch him for respiratory or GI changes.  If, after 3 days, he seems to have no negative changes with the corn, then he is free to eat it whenever. 

I'm thankful that in the midst of a rough week (and the roughness isn't over) that we got some good news.  It helps a little.


Some Days

 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Some days feel impossible.  Some days I wonder why God intended for me to be a mom.  Some days I wonder how I can last even 1 more minute without crying, yelling, or just giving up.

Today was one of those days.

I love my kids.  My existence is wrapped up in theirs.  I don't remember who I was before them.  I think about them when I'm not with them.  I worry about their futures.  I love them.  And lots of days, I'd say most days, that love is hugs, holding hands, laughing, sweet memories.

But some days, the love I feel for them is hard.  So hard.  Like trying to breathe in a room that's full of smoke.  Like walking in quick sand that's thick, and up to my waist. Some days the love I feel for them isn't something that comes naturally.  It's something that I have to choose continuously.  It's something that I have to do, even though I don't want to.  And I usually don't want to because I'm tired, or not feeling well, and all around just too selfish.

Today was one of those days.

How can I tell my toddler to "be patient" when I have no patience?  How can I ask him to "be nice" when I'm not always nice?  How can I expect him to listen, sit still, obey...when I haven't figured out to do those things in my own life?  Hypocrite!

Some days I have to reach out to my friends and ask them to pray for me, because I just don't have the words to pray for myself.  Some days I have to leave the room and take a few minutes to breath, because I don't want to say something to my toddler that I'll regret.  Some days I have to look at my husband and just shake my head, because there are no words.

Today was one of those days.

Now I'm sitting in a quiet room.  Both of my kids are asleep.  If I were to peek in on them, they'd look like angels with their eye lashes fluttering and their cheeks soft and pink.  And they are angels.  They are fighting against their limited understanding of this world. They are searching for answers to all their questions.  They are longing for someone to love them despite their faults and unending curiosities.  Sitting here, I remember that some days it's all a mom can do to make sure that her kids are fed, safe, and healthy, and that not always being a super mom is ok.

Today was one of those days.


New Foods Isaac likes

I just want to get these down so that I remember them.  3 new things in 2 weeks and 2 days.  NOT BAD!

Pistachios (he says, "crack 'em mom!)
Gluten free cereal w/ almond milk

 I'm thankful.

And tired.  ;)


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food failure, food success

Yesterday I caved to the pressure of a 2 year old asking me over and over again for pretzels. I don't give pretzels to Isaac because they contain soy, gluten, and corn.  We've gone 2 weeks with a few mess ups, but for the most part we've been pretty strict with his diet. 

Yesterday was one of those days that I failed at being a mom.  Sure, I kept both my kids alive, fed, entertained. 

But I was grouchy

I was selfish.

I was down right mean to my son at one point.

AND I gave him pretzels.

That's the food Failure. (the rest was parenting failure)

But despite all my short comings, Isaac remained his happy self, and he gave me something to rejoice about.  He ate 2 or 3 pretzels, and then looked at me and said, "something else.  Banana."

Asking for something healthy?  Do my ears deceive me? I was thrilled. Buuuuut unfortunately we didn't have any bananas.  I went to the store last night to make sure that we had plenty today.

That's the food Success!

Anything worth doing takes much effort.  I've always been the kind of give up before I even start.  I've said things like, "it's too hard," and, "it's not working!" about so many things in my life.  That's the reason I'm not a ballerina and I don't tap dance (I don't like it Mom, it's too hard!), that I'm not a concert violinist by now (I can't hold my hand that way!), that I didn't tour the country with a group of christian musicians (it's too unknown!)...
...my child is something that I can't give up on.  I mean, I guess I could.  But if you're a mom you know that giving up is not an option when it comes to your children.  Especially your children's health!  So I've been pushing through my urge to give up and give in.  And giving in to something like pretzels comes down to exhaustion and lack of patience - both things that I'm working on.  I am human, after all.

So I guess the food failure wasn't really a failure, because after all, he didn't even want the pretzels. Maybe instead of a failure, I'll call it a test (whatever helps me sleep at night!)  It was a test to see how he would do. And he passed, with flying colors!  He's getting it.  He's craving things that are better for him.  He might not be eating a vast array of new foods, but he's choosing foods that are healthy!  And that, my friends, is a wonderful place to start.

Thanking God today for little "failures" that turn into successes. 


Keeping Mama Well

A big part of keeping Isaac well is being well myself.  It's a struggle!

Being the mom of 2 kids, I found myself eating junk (because it's quick), showering once every few days (don't have time or when I do I'm too tired), not exercising as much as I should (without sleep, how I have energy to even function to take care of my kids is a supernatural mystery, let alone exert tons of extra energy!), neglecting time with my husband (living like roommates instead of 2 people madly in love), and neglecting time with my friends (most of them have kids and are just as busy if not more busy than I am.  Plus, I kind of forgot how to talk to adults!)

In order to be well, I've started making myself do a few things that I wouldn't otherwise want to do.  Like exercise! (not my favorite thing to do in the slightest!)  And praise God - my baby girl of 7 months has been sleeping more.  Not much more, but enough that I'm sleeping some too.

A few months ago I embarked on a weight loss journey.  I started with the tried and true Weight Watcher's program. That helped me lose 17 pounds and get under my pre-pregnancy weight.  I then did the 17 day diet for a few days (hah!  Didn't make it to 17 days!) which helped me lose 6 more. (I plan to get back on that one day...not because it's really a diet, but it's a great way to eat and stay healthy/have energy/cleanse your body, etc.)  Now that I'm at a place where I'm comfortable with my weight, it's time to start doing something that helps me tone up too.  I've been walking a couple times a week on my treadmill for a few months.  I never thought I'd say this, but I actually look forward to that time.  It's just me, music that is way too loud in my headphones, and sweat.  It's alone time, time that is so precious and hard to find.

Last night I went to "boot camp" with a few of my good friends.  I was scared to death! It was 45 minutes of intense work out.  We did planks, side planks, leg circles, mountain climbers, forward lunges...and so many other things that I don't know the names of.  It KiCKEd/My/bUtT!

I'm so sore today.  But I like it.  It means that I did something to help my body.  In a couple days, when I'm feeling like I can walk normally again, I'll do boot camp again.  

I'm also going to start to try and learn to run.  We'll see how that goes.  My goal is to be able to run a mile (jog, I guess) without stopping, by May 25.  2 months.  Think I can do it?

I've also made time for my husband.  He is my partner in crime, my foundation, my constant friend (even when I'm not so nice to him!)  It's not always easy, but it's so important and so vital.  We are going through a Bible study together, something we've wanted to do for years but never got around to.  The more I hear him talk about the Bible, the more I realize that he is thinking exactly what I am, it's just that he knows how to put it into words.  He inspires me, challenges me to know more.  I'm learning to cherish the little things: his laugh.  He has the best laugh!  He always ends up coughing when something is funny enough to make him laugh.  He also has long arms and thus gives the best hugs.  He is the only one I feel I can be completely real with.  He loves me despite my grumpiness in the morning.  He is the true definition of a best friend.

I've also been able to spend some more time with friends.  God has blessed me with amazing friends.  I don't deserve them.  I'm thankful for them!

So, here's to being well.  Getting well is the first step, then I can work on keeping myself well.


Mara Cookies (Vegan Nut Butter Cookies)

My good friend Mara is recipe testing for us.  She lives in California, 1000 miles away, and wanted to help me out with Isaac's food sensitives.  She is lovingly trying a new recipe for us, once a week, to see if it turns out well, is yummy, and can add to Isaac's short list of foods.  This has been a huge help for me.  It is maddening when I take the time and effort to try out a new recipe only to find out that it's gross, or that it falls flat and doesn't work out.  Having a friend do all the preliminary work for me and say, "it's great!" or "try this ingredient instead," is such an incredible help.  God has blessed me with wonderful friends!  Thank you Mara!

Isaac was skeptical at first, but he's since eaten 3 cookies.  Big success!  Yes, my picky eater even turns away sugary goodness most of the time.  If he likes them, there is a chance that your picky eater will like them too!  You can also add chocolate chips - you can never go wrong with chocolate chips.  Just make sure they are the right kind for your diet/food sensitivities!

Mara Cookies(Nut Butter Cookies)


·         3/4 t. Baking Soda
·         3 T. GF Flour
·         ¼ C. Sugar
·         2 T. Brown Sugar or Coconut Sugar
·         Pinch of Salt
·         ½ C. Nut Butter (Justin’s Maple Almond Butter)
·         2 T. Maple Syrup (or 2 T. Applesauce; or 2 T. Oil; or combination)
·         ½ t. Vanilla

Whisk together all dry ingredients well.  Add wet ingredients and blend.
Can refrigerate dough for 1 hour (not necessary). 
Use small cookie dough scoop to make about 11 mounded cookies (no need to pat them down).
Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.  Leave cookies on sheet for at least 5 minutes after they are removed
from the oven.

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